Two of the best free showcases of the entire Sing Out Loud Festival
St. Augustine was once a bastion for Black musicians in the South, as both a home to, and a stopping off point for, some of the most influential performers of their time. It’s on the threads of that legacy that St. Augustine-based music promotion company Underwire Collective tugs. Established in 2019 by Bianca Dawson and Kinsley Stewart, Underwire Collective uses music to put a spotlight on BIPOC femmes, trans and queer creatives.
Underwire has curated two showcases at Anastasia Island’s Planet Sarbez on September 24 and 25 for the Sing Out Loud Festival. Featuring Florida-based artists working in hip-hop, R&B, indie rock, folk and more, Underwire’s showcases represent two of the best opportunities to catch local and regional performers whose music is currently reverberating across the state. (Disclosure: I was invited to perform at Saturday’s showcase.)
Friday’s showcase kicks things off with folk trio Annie Dukes, followed by top-notch Jax vocalist Niki Dawson, Orlando garage band Wet Nurse and Jax pop artist K.UTIE. Saturday finds SoFla indie group Seafoam Walls, followed by Gainesville’s Palomino Blond and Miami garage rockers Bruvvy. I’ll close things down that night.
I recently caught up with the Underwire braintrust to ask them about the founding of their collective, the upcoming Sarbez showcases and how folks can support their organization.
Tell me about Underwire Collectives mission and why you felt it was needed in St. Augustine?
Stewart: Bianca and I started Underwire in 2019 at first as a festival, raising money and awareness for St. Augustine’s local domestic violence shelter Betty Griffin Center. Fast forward to now, and we are continuing to book shows with a mission to lift up BIPOC, women and LGBTQIA+ artists and musicians. We also have a mission to diversify shows in terms of genres, bringing different types of music together all under the same bill.
Dawson: Our mission is to create a safer and profitable space for marginalized artists. St. Augustine is a touristy town, so much of the music is geared towards a limited audience. Being black in a dominantly white town it’s rare to look up at the stage and see someone that looks like me. We want to change that.
I’m so excited to see you all be a part of the Sing Out Loud Fest. Who’s performing and why did you choose these artists ?
Stewart: Our Friday showcase features Niki Dawson, Annie Dukes, K.UTIE, and Wet Nurse. Saturday’s showcase includes Seafoam Walls, Palomino Blond, Bruvvy and you [Geexella].
Dawson: We are super excited as well! We have artists from a variety of places in Florida from Miami to Orlando. These artists were chosen because of the diversity of musical genre and their transcendent passion for the music they produce. We want to make sure each show allows fans to see an artist they normally wouldn’t go to see perform, and that’s why we always make sure each lineup includes something for everyone. Especially being in a small town that is dedicated to tourists.
What dreams and manifestations do you have for Underwire Collective?
Stewart: We are always scheming and dreaming of new ideas. Maybe a touring festival? Definitely more partnerships and collaborations! We want to continue to put on safe, fun and diverse artistic and musical events with an eye to the future.
Dawson: We would love to expand our reach and take Underwire Collective on the road with pop up shows and workshops.
How can people support Underwire Collective?
Stewart: Keep in touch with us on social media and also come to our shows and events. Our Instagram handle is @underwire.collective and we are launching a website soon.
Dawson: Support goes beyond double-tapping with your index finger on a post you like. People can support by actively giving back to their community through volunteering or donating funds. Actions always speak louder.
For more info on Underwire Collective’s Sing Out Loud Showcases, visit the SOL website.
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